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All eyes were on the COP15 – the Conference of the Parties – as it aimed to tackle the complex issue of nature loss, following the complete failure of the Aichi targets set in 2010. Expectations were high. While some hoped for ambitious goals to be reached, others were more skeptical about the possibility of an international agreement. After two weeks of intense debate in Montreal, some claimed that a “Paris moment for nature” had been reached. However, it’s too early to tell whether these commitments will live up to the “Paris analogy”.
The World Economic Forum identified biodiversity loss as the third most severe global risk over the next decade, just behind climate action failure and extreme weather. Researchers have also identified nine global boundaries that, if exceeded, could potentially make the Earth uninhabitable for our species and trigger large-scale, irreversible environmental changes. We’ve already exceeded the limits for biosphere integrity and genetic diversity. According to WWF, wildlife populations have declined by an average of 69% since 1970, with an estimated 25% of all species at risk of extinction by 2050. Approximately 75% of land-based environments and 66% of ocean environments have been significantly altered, and more than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now used for crop or livestock production. Finally, over half of the world’s GDP (i.e., USD 44 trillion) relies on nature’s services and ecosystems. The stakes are high, and the fate of our planet hangs in the balance. The aftermath of COP15 will be crucial in addressing this issue.
Let’s look at four breakthrough moments of the COP15, and discuss their impact on the fight against nature loss.